Editor’s note:The following story was printed in the September/October 2011 issue of the CDS Review as a sidebar to our feature on political engagement. Loren Feldner’s involvement in organized dentistry started with his membership in the Academic Chapter of the Chicago Dental Society, since he was a first-year dental student at the Loyola University School of Dentistry. He became active in Dent-IL-PAC in 1990 and served as its president in 2008. Dr. Feldner is in his third year of a four-year term as an ADPAC board member representing Illinois, which ranks second in the nation in contributions to ADPAC. The Tinley Park native has been in practice in Orland Park for the past 24 years. In the following, Dr. Feldner talks about legislative advocacy and organized dentistry from the perspective of an active volunteer.
When I meet dentists from across the country, I try to convince them to play a more active role in the legislative process (federal and state) because of the many issues that impact dental practices on a daily basis. The list of issues is extensive: third party payers, mid-level providers, malpractice insurance, cost of dental school tuition, scope of practice, licensure, Medicaid reimbursement rates, OSHA oversight, community health centers and healthcare reform law implementation, to name just a few.
I tell them that thousands of bills get introduced in Congress each year, and that the American Dental Association tracks and responds to hundreds of those legislative proposals to protect and advocate for the dental profession. That gets their attention pretty quickly.
For example, the so-called Red Flags Rule would have cost the average practice more than $600 per year. It was ultimately overturned because of the ADA’s efforts. I also mention recently passed legislation to overturn the law that required businesses to file IRS 1099 forms for vendor contracts exceeding $600 a year. That law would have cost the average practitioner thousands of dollars in staff costs and accounting fees. The ADA was a leader in getting that law reversed as well.
More and more dentists are politically engaged because of increased government intervention in our practices. A big example is the new Healthcare Reform Act, which contains a number of provisions of interest to dentistry. The ADA is working hard to address all the dental-related issues put forth in the new law. You can follow what the ADA is doing regarding healthcare reform by visiting www.ada.org (check under Advocacy). The ADA has developed a Healthcare Reform Matrix that lists all the dental-related issues in the new law and how they have responded to the proposed regulations.
Why is the ADA so effective on Capitol Hill? Dentists have become more politically involved by joining the ADA’s grassroots program and with increased contributions to ADPAC.
ADPAC speaks with one voice, representing more than 150,000 dentists across this country. When we go to Congress, our representatives understand the unique role we play as small business owners and health professionals who care deeply about our patients and the prevention of oral disease.
Members of Congress also appreciate the fact that we support the elected officials who support us. Many dentists serve as advisors on healthcare committees for members of Congress, and many ADA members have held fundraisers in their homes and offices for candidates and incumbents who support our issues.
Isn’t it time you got more involved in the political process for the good of your patients, your practice and your profession? Please join ADPAC today.
—Loren Feldner, DDS